Education and Career Navigation Framework

 The education and career navigation framework is a comprehensive structure designed to facilitate identification and organization of the knowledge, skills, and other factors needed to help individuals make informed, personally relevant decisions and build actionable, achievable plans. The theoretical, empirical, an intervention literatures in this area provide a variety of perspectives on what contributes to effective navigation. Existing US and international navigation-related standards and assessments offer additional insights into what is important for education and career success.  This framework integrates these different perspectives and sources of information into a holistic taxonomy that provides a guide for what individuals should know and be able to do to navigate their education and work paths effectively.

Together, the four dimensions at the highest level of the navigation taxonomy (see Table 7) capture the broad areas critical to effective navigation. Navigation can be thought of as a process that  requires ongoing acquisition of knowledge about oneself and the environment (Self-Knowledge  and Environmental Factors), informed personally relevant education and career decision making  and planning (Integration), and the implementation and negotiation of actions (Managing Career  and Education Actions) that facilitate progress throughout one’s education and work life (Patton &  McMahon, 2006; G. W. Peterson et al., 1991; Super, 1990; Savickas, 2002, 2005).

Table 7. Education and Career Navigation and Definitions

An effective navigation process requires individuals to become aware of the conditions and choices that confront them and that sensitize them to the need for relevant education- or career-related activities (Hirschi & Läge, 2007; Van Esbroeck, Tibos, & Zaman, 2005). It is also necessary for individuals to develop an accurate understanding of themselves (e.g., personal characteristics and beliefs) and the world of work or education (Germeijs & Verschueren, 2007; G. W. Peterson et al., 1991). These are reflected in the Self-Knowledge and Environmental Factors dimensions. Both of these dimensions are essential for providing guidelines by which individuals evaluate whether choices are personally relevant and realistic (Herr, Cramer, & Niles, 2004). Next, individuals integrate information about themselves and the environment through exploring and building goals, which allows for making better-informed comparisons and personally relevant choices among education or work alternatives (Gati & Asher, 2001; Hirschi & Lage, 2007). While education and career decisions are a major part of the navigation process, this process would be incomplete if it stopped there.  Effective navigation must also include translating choices into achievable plans and purposeful actions as well as developing strategies to implement one’s choices—a process that further motivates action. The Managing Career and Education Actions dimension sets in motion efforts to implement one’s plan and achieve personal goals. This dimension also focuses on the process of adaptation and maintenance after achieving an education or work goal such as attending a college of choice or obtaining a job (Hershenson, 2005).

Each of the four broad dimensions is made up of a set of hierarchically organized components, subcomponents, and finally, at the most specific level, navigation knowledge and skills. (Figure 8 illustrates the hierarchical organization of the navigation framework.) This structure allows for connecting broader concepts to the specific skills that facilitate effective education and career navigation and comparison across important transitions.

The complete framework is made up of 20 components and 35 subcomponents. Table 8 organizes the components (subcomponents) and component definitions by the four broad dimensions.

Table 8. Components (Subcomponents) in the Education and Career Navigation Framework

 Education and Career Navigation: Framework Support

Leading career development theories lend support to the inclusion of the various components (Subcomponents) in the navigation framework. Person–environment fit and correspondence theories (e.g., Dawis & Lofquist, 1984; Holland, 1959, 1997) postulate specific concepts that interact to influence career choice and satisfaction. For Holland, these include similarities and differences between personal attributes (personality and interests) and the attributes of vocational environments whereby the degree of match or congruence between these attributes influences important vocational outcomes, such as job choice, performance, satisfaction, and turnover. The Theory of Work Adjustment (Dawis, 2005) argues that job satisfaction and performance are inextricably linked to the relationships between personal characteristics (needs, values, and skills) and environmental characteristics (available rewards and needed skills and abilities).

From a different theoretical perspective, Super’s (1990) life-stage career development theory  focuses on the development and implementation of the self-concept through vocational tasks  that involve the understanding of personal attributes during the exploration stage, making choices  consistent with those attributes, being planful, and pursuing goals. For Super, implementing the self-concept is instrumental not only to identity development, but also to later satisfaction. Super (1990)  also emphasizes contextual influences on this development, including the salience of life roles such  as worker, student, parent, and so forth, and role conflicts in the life space and across the life span.  The combination of roles a person assumes changes over time, which requires individuals to clarify and balance those roles based on which roles are more or less important at a given time.

Gottfredson’s (1981) Theory of Circumscription and Compromise is a process model of career choice guided by important influences on the self-concept, such as occupational perceptions, sex-role norms and attitudes, social class and status, and the development of personal attributes that intersect with the realities of the world of work to shape individuals’ choice options. For Gottfredson, there is a dynamic interplay between the individual and the environment. Children are influenced more by external factors (e.g., social class) than internal factors (e.g., interests) as they eliminate occupation alternatives, while internal factors become more prominent in determining occupation fit for adolescents. This theory also addresses external realities and constraints (e.g., available jobs  in a desired geographic area) by suggesting that individuals will accommodate what they wish to  do given what is realistically achievable, and compromise on their occupational compatibility on one  factor (e.g., interests) to maintain greater fit with another factor (e.g., values).

Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, 2013b) seeks to explain how vocational interests develop and how individuals make education and career choices through the interplay of self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations, and personal goals. The relationship between these constructs also works to influence performance and satisfaction, according to this theory. Regarding interests, individuals who engage in activities they believe they can accomplish (self-efficacy) and anticipate such participation will produce a valued outcome and are likely to prefer those activities. Interest in particular activities encourages personal goals or intentions to continue involvement in these activities, and choices are often linked to interests. However, when interests are constrained by environmental conditions, choices will be influenced by available options, resources, self-efficacy beliefs, and outcome expectations (Lent, 2013a).

The above theories emphasize constructs represented by the components and subcomponents included in the navigation framework. Additional information used to inform which components (subcomponents) to include in the navigation framework was drawn from national and international standards, guidelines, and competencies derived from numerous sources that provide navigation-related information (e.g., National Career Development Guidelines, 2004; Australian Blueprint for Career Development, 2010; International Association of Educational and Vocational Guidance, 2004; American School Counselor Association, 2012; McREL, 2014; European Qualifications Framework, 2005; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, 2009; Stein, 2000; International Labour Office, 2002). A majority of these sources focus on a variety of common themes that pertain to the education and career navigation framework including, but not limited to, academic and technical skills/abilities, beliefs, knowledge of education and the workplace, skills to explore career options, making choices and plans, securing and maintaining work, and ongoing  learning.

Important components (subcomponents) in the framework were also identified by examining navigation-related assessments that have been developed to test relevant theories and to  facilitate and evaluate interventions.1 A bridge between theory and practice, these assessments provide support for key components (subcomponents) that influence the real-world questions and  circumstances confronting many individuals. These instruments frequently assess personal attributes  (including interests, skills/abilities, and values), domain-specific self-efficacies related to making  career decisions and searching for jobs, supports and barriers, career decision making, and different  aspects of congruence (fit) such as person–organization fit and person–job fit. Multidimensional assessments capture role salience, attitudes, self-efficacy, action planning, exploration, career identity, and implementation, which are part of the navigation framework.

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    Some of these assessments include the ACT Interest Inventory (ACT, 2009), Strong Interest Inventory (Donnay, Morris, Schaubhut,  & Thompson, 2005), Self-Directed Search (Holland, Fritzsche, & Powell, 1994), Work Values Inventory (Super, 1973), Work Aspect Preference Scale (Pryor, 1983), Inventory of Work-related Values (Bobek & Gore, 2001), Career Decision-Making Self-efficacy Scale  (Betz, Klein, & Taylor, 1996), Parental Career-related Behaviors (Dietrich & Kracke, 2009), Perception of Barriers Scale (McWhirter,  1997), Decisional Process Inventory (Hartung, 1995), Organizational Culture Profile (O’Reilly, Chatman, & Caldwell, 1991), Career  Adapt-Abilities Scale (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012, ), and the Job Search Attitude Inventory (Liptak, 1994).